Partnership with Samaritan's Purse, Ohio's Design Outreach Leads to Humanitarian Project

The first graduating cohort of Cedarville University’s civil engineering program completed senior design projects, including partnerships with Design Outreach and Samaritan’s Purse, focused on creating prototypes of service applications for international use.

Each service application from the group of 19 civil engineering students was focused on providing humanitarian assistance.

“One of the main values we want to build into our program is an appreciation for service and missions work,” said Dr. David Dittenber, associate professor of civil engineering. “We think it is important to structure our senior projects around service-based engineering.”

During the fall semester, seniors worked to gain a background understanding of their assigned engineering problems, then design an affordable solution. In the Spring, students executed their plans by running experiments and building prototypes.

Projects included a partnership with Design Outreach to create a latrine structure to meet the needs of families in Malawi, a partnership with Samaritan’s Purse to design a disaster relief shelter against flooding and cyclones in Mozambique, development of well drilling testing equipment for the village of Poundioum Senegal and evaluation of ground anchors commonly used for temporary structures in disaster relief scenarios.

Each project culminated in a complete prototype that has potential to be implemented for humanitarian work in other countries or continually developed by the next class of civil engineering students.

Design Outreach is a Christian humanitarian engineering nonprofit organization headquartered in Gahanna, Ohio that focuses on innovative products that improve the lives of the most marginalized and vulnerable people living in developing countries.

The students' project for Design Outreach, when completed, will result in a design for the above ground structural components of a latrine that can interface with the latrine pit liner and slab Design Outreach is working to develop. These technologies are necessary for equipping a single-family household in Malawi with a reusable restroom that is independent from water. With an approximate lifetime of 20 years, the project could make a significant difference in rural areas of the developing country.

“This is something Design Outreach really wants to see developed,” said Dittenber on the LifeLatrine Superstructure project. “We will probably be working on it a second year, taking what the students did and making it cheaper and easier for Design Outreach to implement prototypes for further evaluation by the summer of 2023.”

“These projects are a chance to see what the students are capable of in a non-structured environment,” Dittenber noted. “All four of these are projects target problems without a real solution right now. The real benefit for students is having to tackle a real issue that’s taking place on the other side of the world.”

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,715 undergraduate, graduate, and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, including the Bachelor of Science in civil engineering, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and high student engagement ranking. For more information about the University, visit

Written by Alex Boesch

2122 273 CE Design Projects Photo 1
Civil engineering students created the LifeLatrine Superstructure for their senior capstone project

2122 273 CE Design Projects Photo 2
The LifeLatrine Superstructure will aim to provide reusable restrooms to Malawi families

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